I’m really writing this post more for myself than for anyone I have spoken to, but I think most people will be able to get something out of this post. I’ve been debating about this post for a while, trying to find the right words and all that. I think this is something that needs to be said, and I hope someone reads it and asks the question they’re been afraid to ask.
I think feeling competent is an especially difficult thing for a self-taught coder, like myself. I started out in journalism (yes, that’s right – at newspaper. They DO still make those.) and that might explain my love of incorporating literature into my posts. Or I might just be weird.
I started teaching myself on Codecademy, and if you’ve ever done it alone, you’ll know how tough it is to learn a language on your own. There is no reference point, it’s like walking around in the dark with holes in the floor. If you fall through the floor you have no idea why, only that you did something wrong.
So beyond yammering about how I learned coding, what am I getting at here? Well… I tend to apologize when I ask any type of question. And that’s if I ask the question at all. So often I will hold on to a question because I’m not sure of the terminology, or I’m afraid that it’s going to make me look stupid and reveal the lack of knowledge I have and everyone will know that I don’t really know what I’m talking about and the sky will fall and the universe will IMPLODE.
Ok, maybe that’s a long shot. But I still don’t want to look stupid, and asking might make me look stupid, so I don’t ask. When there comes a time I do ask the question, it usually looks something like this:
- “I hope I’m not bugging you but…. <question>”
- “Sorry to bother you…”
- “This is probably really obvious, but….”
- “Is this a bad time?”
- “Sorry if this is stupid…”
You get the idea. I frequently apologize and I’m super hesitant to ask. And these people are my friends! But asking is a scary thing. In a field where knowledge is currency, you are expressing that there is something you don’t know.
Spoiler Alert: Everyone has something they don’t know.
(If this is something you are really having trouble with, check out this video on Imposter Syndrome.)
The main thing I was to say here is that if you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s ok to ask. Give it the old college try on Google, and try to make sense of what you find. Get on JSFiddle and try to use it yourself. Open up the console and mess around to see how it works.
If you’ve done this and still aren’t getting it. ASK SOMEONE. And whatever you do, do not apologize for asking.
If anyone tries to make you feel bad or stupid for asking your particular question, they are an asshole. Period. They do not deserve your time. Don’t ask them again, and keep asking and Googling until you get it.
The best thing I have ever found for grasping a difficult concept is just working with it. Pull open the console and start logging stuff out. Try it a different way. Put log statements throughout your function in different places. Tweet out your question.
Just don’t give up. And definitely don’t apologize for asking.